In light of the recent hokei assignment I gave the Tech Taido black belt candidates, I decided to post some notes on a couple of hokei that I have created. Though neither one would fulfill the requirements I set forth in the assignment (because they were designed for reasons to be outlined below), their presentation may prove beneficial to the candidates as an example of the kinds of thinking that may be useful in the creation of a new hokei.
Hen/Hen no Hokei ("double weird")
Sometime around 2000ish, I got to the point that I had become competent in performing every hokei in the American curriculum, and a couple of others that only a very few older instructors had ever seen. While I could have continued to practice them forever, continually discovering greater depth, our organization was in a very expansive mood at the time, in terms of technique. I thought some creative hokei interpretations would be a good idea.
I decided to make newer versions of each of the -tai hokei. I chose to begin with hentai no hokei because hengi are archetypical of Taido, and because the routine appears to be very closed to interpretation in its original form. In Japanese, "hen" means changing, strange, or weird, among other things. Since I was changing hentai no hokei, I decided to call it hen-hen, or double-weird, hokei.
I'll begin by describing the moves for the current incarnation of hen-hen. Here's an outline:
The routine begins from gedan kamae and faces left in the usual fashion. However, I use jodangamae instead of chudan here.
(from hidari jodan) senjo-ebigeri (without touching the kicking foot to the ground in between), ushiro nukite (fudodachi), stand up, repeat on other side
face front in hidari chudan, untai keri tsuki, gyaku shajogeri, ushiro sentai gyakujogeri, kiai, return to kamae, untai keri tsuki, gyaku dogarami, untai keri tsuki, turn and morote nukite, step left to hidari jodan
sentai no tsuki, gyaku shajogeri, kaeshi ejizuki, gyaku ebigeri, step forward to kamae, step forward again, repeat on other side
(from migi morote gedan) bakuchu moroashigeri, fukuteki
step up to 45 degree angle (hidari chudan), keri moroashigeri, turn and repeat on other side, kiai, return to genten
Since this is based on a hokei you all know, I think you can get the gist of what I'm doing here. It should be apparent that I haven't really changed the "flavor" of the hokei at all. If anything, i've increased the things that make hentai no hokei so interesting (to me, that is) in the first place: more changing directing, more hengi, more complexity. I've also gotten rid of the non-hengi for the first kiai, which has always bothered me (yes, it's still technically sengi, but the actual strike is hengeri...). In general, I think my hen-hen hokei is very much like the original, only more so.
So why bother, if it's going to be so similar? Well, for starters, I didn't want the hokei to be unrecognizable. It's still hentai no hokei - just a different version. The original hokei is great practice, and I love it. I just wanted to see how I could "max-out" the framework that the hokei provides. Have I done a good job? Well, that depends on what you think Taido should look like.
I'm sure some folks would think the use of jodan kamae is erroneous. However, I've always liked using jodan with sentai and hentai movements, and since the hokei has techniques working in opposite directions, it seemed like a natural fit. Some folks might wish for more unshin, since the original hokei only has one chance to earn extra points in competition, but i'm not very competition-oriented, so it's not much concern to me. I think hentai no hokei is about changing - changing the body axis, changing direction, changing level (height), changing kamae for various uses, etc. The notion of change is central to my version of the hokei.
I feel that the outline above is pretty self-explanatory. Since the "point" of the hokei is unchanged, I won't give much in the way of analysis of this routine. However, please note that the techniques do "flow". There is nothing arbitrary or non-functional. The principles employed are the same as the original hokei. The techniques are (almost entirely) hentai. The routine does what it sets out to do by sticking to its theme and providing a useful practice of hengi at a higher level than the original version.
Now let's look at my most recent creation:
2006 Asia-Pacific Games "Taido no Hokei"
Later this week, I will travel to Sydney to participate in the second annual Asia-Pacific meet. This year's competition event includes a category called "Taido no hokei". Briefly, the rules indicate that the player must create an individually unique hokei, based on a standard enbusen pattern used in the existing -tai hokei. The hokei should make use of each of the five sotai movements and contain some interesting/difficult techniques. It also has to be symmetrical. That about sums up the stipulations.
Lately, I've been spending most of my training time on the -sei hokei series, which are designed to practice go no sen application as opposed to the sen no sen of the -tai and -in hokei. This distinction primarily means that the -sei hokei use techniques, and are practiced in an attitude, conducive to application in a defense situation. For example, the -tai hokei (sen no sen) consist of straight-line techniques deployed offensively against one opponent at a time (usually). In the -sei hokei (go no sen), the performer defends against several attacks (sometimes by multiple assailants) in various directions. The -sei hokei use less kicking, no unshin, and more-complex unsoku than the -tai hokei, as well as lots of elbows, punches, and grabs.
I'll get more into this difference in a future article, but the point is that I really am enjoying the go no sen feel of the -sei hokei, so I decided that I would attempt to bring more go no sen timing into my "Taido no hokei", despite the fact that it has to follow the basic form of a -tai hokei.
Here's an outline:
Firstly, I should say that I am basing this on the movement pattern seen in untai and sentai no hokei. However, I have made a couple of tweaks. For instance, from the initial gedan kamae, I turn to the left by spinning about the front foot, clockwise, so that I arrive in migi chudan, one step westward (assuming the front to be north) of the standard opening step. This is to set up the idea from the beginning that I am facing two separate opponents simultaneously attacking from opposite sides. Other alterations to the pattern should be apparent as I proceed.
(from migi chudan) sentai shajogeri, renzoku nentai ejizuki, gyakuzuki, ushiro gyaku dogarami, tobi 3dangeri and morote nukite (hidari ejidachi), make hidari chudan in place, repeat on other side (migi ejidachi, rear foot on genten), spin counter-clockwise about rear foot to face front (hidari chudan)
untai keri tsuki, turn and morote nukite, bakuchugeri, turn to north, zenten junzuki (migi ejidachi), kiai, left leg steps west to hidari chudan
ka-soku sentai jun-hangetsuate (at 90 degrees), return by reversing the step in gyakusentai fashion, gen-soku, look to rear (east), ushiro nukite (migi ryunendachi), senjo-ebi-moroashigeri, return facing east, shotebarai, sentai kinteki enpi, kaeshi sentai gyakujoate (eastward), nage kuzushi (hidari ejidachi, facing west), turn in place to migi chudan, repeat on other side (migi ejidachi, facing east, right foot on kidosen), left leg steps north to migi chudan (facing genten)
untai keri tsuki, turn and morote nukite, bakuchugeri, turn to south, zenten junzuki (hidari ejidachi), right leg pulls 135 degrees clockwise to hidari chudan to northwest
untai oshikuzushi, step-in ryunen enpi, uraken, turn 180 degrees to northwest, torite, assist with right hand, left leg steps along the same line in front of the body to fudodachi, migi ushiro enpi with arm-break across left shoulder, left leg steps back to torite position, drop-enpi, left leg steps in front of body to genten, right leg spins 90 degress clockwise, repeat other side, kiai, return to genten, have a beer, go to bed
Parts of this are going to be difficult to understand in writing, and that's ok. I may post some video someday, but I'm hoping to avoid turning this site into a media-heavy affair with too many stimulating visuals. In the meantime, use your imagination and try to figure out for yourself what these techniques are, and how they are being used. The discussion below may be helpful in this respect.
How did I meet the requirements?
Well, I followed the pattern symmetrically, and I used every sotai at least twice. What's more, I tried to use each of the five techniques together in combination. In terms of interesting (or perhaps even new) techniques, I have a few combinations that I have never seen elsewhere. The shajo renzoku nenzuki is all mine. The senjo-moroashigeri is the advanced level of the senjo-ebi I use in the hen/hen hokei. Tobi 3dangeri was suggested as a possible point-winner, so I felt I should throw it in. I think I have met the requirements very well and even pushed beyond my knowledge of the expectations.
How did I exhibit go no sen?
This is a more interesting question. During each combination (save the kiai portions), I have two opponents attacking form opposite sides. The combinations deal with each opponent without neglecting the threat of being struck from behind. For each opponent, there is a defensive move, a time-buying move, and a finishing move. I've also included a good number of throws, joint attacks, and close-in striking. I'll let you stretch your imagination a bit by figuring out the bunkai (though I may teach this routine and its applications to black belts someday). The main thing is that I think it's pretty obvious that I am defending against multiple attackers in this routine. And that's what I had hoped to accomplish.
The only thing I wish I could have done differently is to make use of more tengi techniques (not just in the "up and down" parts) or some better-integrated close/joint work. The tengi and close-in parts are kind of separate from the sen-un-hen-nen parts, which are very integrated. I would have liked it if I could have found a way to make everything fit a little more tightly together, and I may be able to do so in a future incarnation of this routine. As it stands now though, I had to cut out about half of the techniques I really wanted to include because my original draft would have killed me on endurance (it took about six minutes to do a mental walk-through). I traded the opportunity to create the "ultimate" hokei to end up with a performable hokei that includes plenty of flash while holding on to its purpose.
So that's the end of my notes on these two hokei. I think they show different sides of hokei creation in response to different requirements. One was designed as an update of an existing hokei, and one was designed for competition as an omnibus collection of interesting combinations exemplifying go no sen.
While neither of these would be acceptable for the hokei assignment as given, they could be interesting source material for students (or anyone) hoping to build their own routines. In addition, this article may be helpful in deciding how to structure the essay portion of the hokei assignment (though the descriptions would be unnecessary).
I hope this demonstrates that the contents of a hokei or routine are designed to be functional practice for combination techniques. While it's always nice if a routine looks badass, this is meaningless if the techniques don't fit together with some overall purpose. The two hokei outlined above are both pretty good examples of these points.
I have created several other hokei over the past five or six years (not to mention the ones I made up as a child - but I was more interested in tenkai in those days). In addition to "updates" of all the -tai hokei (including both versions of untai) as well as ten and nen -in, I have done several combined-sotai routines: sen-un, un-hen, sen-nen, and ten-hen. I've also played with the -sei and -mei hokei along the same lines, but I haven't finalized any practice that I feel really meets the standards of being called a "hokei".
This kind of tinkering with preset routines doesn't have to be limited to hokei. In america, we practice a lot of shorter routines for various techniques. I am currently working on making new versions of all of these too, at both easier and more difficult levels. The idea is that students can learn simple routines early on, and then increase the complexity and difficulty with variations on the theme as they progress. For example, I have a variation on the simple 8-step chudan kamae turning drill for each belt level. Black belts find themselves losing balance and tripping over their feet when they practice my advanced sentai routine.
Perhaps some really forward-thinking students may be interested in the idea of altering existing hokei and routines as a means of creating incrementally progressive drills of gradually increasing difficulty to improve capabilities in some or other theme of movement.